Welcome Progress to Extending a Critical Element of Canada's Research Infrastructure: The Experimental Lakes Area

July 9, 2013

WATERLOO, ON, APRIL 24, 2013. Ontario’s world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) is an important and highly unique centre of freshwater research that looks poised to continue to produce important research this year and beyond, due to the efforts of the Ontario and Manitoba Governments, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the federal government.  The ELA was formed in 1966 as the Brainchild of fisheries scientist Waldo Johnson, former Director of the Freshwater Institute. It was research conducted at the ELA that led to key initiatives such as the legislation restricting acid rain production as well as Canada becoming the first country to ban phosphorus from laundry detergents.

This unique freshwater and fisheries research facility located in a pristine area of north western Ontario, serves as a research site for more than 50 ecosystem-scale experiments, each lasting from years to decades.  The pristine setting is what makes the ELA so unique and has allowed researchers to conduct real-world ecosystem manipulations in isolation of other impacts.

Last May, Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced that the ELA would be shut down on March 31, 2013.  Response to the announced closing spoke loudly to the clear value of the ELA. Over the past year, thousands of Canadians signed petitions calling on the government to reverse the decision to close the ELA, and international voices also weighed in on the importance of the contributions of this facility.  The governments of Ontario, Manitoba and Canada are working towards an agreement that would transfer the management of ELA to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

As a national organization that draws upon excellence in water research, Canadian Water Network recognizes the tremendous significance of these efforts for Canada and the global water community, and applauds all parties involved in finding a solution to enable the continuation of the ELA.  “This is a very positive step for Canada and for Canadian Science” says Bernadette Conant, Executive Director of Canadian Water Network.  Conant adds that “the continuation of the Experimental Lakes Area represents an important step towards ensuring Canada’s position as a water research leader.”

Peter Steblin, Chair of the Board of CWN shares that “we are thrilled that the crucial work of the many researchers in the Experimental Lakes Area is likely to continue.” Canadian Water Network would like to recognize the efforts of the partners for moving towards an agreement that will no doubt lead to further advancements in Canadian water research.

About Canadian Water Network

Established in 2001 by the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence program, the Waterloo, Ontario-based Canadian Water Network (CWN) was created to foster multidisciplinary, multi-sector partnerships between academia, industry, government and not-for-profit organizations.  CWN plays a vital role in ensuring that Canada not only benefits from its publicly funded investments in research to manage water resources more effectively, but also that Canada becomes a world leader in water management.

CWN connects Canadian and international researchers with the decision-makers engaged in priority water management issues by establishing and supporting multidisciplinary communities of research and practice across three themes — protecting Canada’s watersheds and ecosystems, protecting the health of Canadians, and ensuring that Canada has sustainable water infrastructure. We do this by consulting with water managers and decision-makers, and funding peer-reviewed collaborative research projects that address their needs.

CWN initiatives have spanned more than 130 multidisciplinary research projects, focusing the expertise of more than 200 researchers and 200 students across 37 Canadian universities with that of more than 350 partners in industry, government and non-governmental organizations. Since its inception in 2001, CWN has invested more than $50 million dollars to advance the research being done to develop more resilient, adaptive systems and frameworks to deal with the uncertainty and risks related to water.

For more information, please contact Jenn Willoughby, Manager of Strategic Marketing and Outreach
Canadian Water Network, Waterloo, ON
tel.: (519) 888-4567, extension 37853, jwilloughby@cwn-rce.ca